6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Growing up, I was trained to think the way Christians grow is from experience to experience. Church services were the weekly “experiences” intended to give you the fuel you need to “make it through the week.” Youth camps where the “mountain top” experience where you “rededicated” your life to live more wholeheartedly for God. In just about every aspect experience was presented as the next step for spiritual growth.
Another approach to Christian growth, opposite of experience (or mysticism), is the increase of knowledge. The idea is that those who know the most are the most mature and most godly people around. When someone displays their ability to answer deep questions, we assume they must know God. They must really far in their walk with Christ. The outcome of this approach is that advancement in the Christian life is measured by the amount that one knows intellectually.
These camps of rationalism and mysticism are both right and wrong at the same time. They are right in that it is necessary that we know God, both intellectually and experientially. They are wrong in that they equate spiritual growth by experience and knowledge. The Bible critiques both views with the gospel. We grow in the Christian faith the same way we entered into the Christian faith–by repentance and faith.
How did you receive Christ Jesus the Lord? By turning from sin (repentance) and turning to Christ (faith). So then, how are we to live after we have received Christ? Answer: the same way–repentance and faith. The outworking of the gospel in the Christian life is going to generate a repenting faith and a believing repentance, and when the gospel is central, repentance and faith will be ordinary, ongoing, and regular. Where there is no repentance and faith, there is no effect of the gospel and consequently no growth in the Christian life.
In God’s wisdom, the Christian life is called a walk. It is not a leap from experience to experience (mysticism). It is not acknowledgement of intellectual assent in greater degrees (rationalism). It is a walk–an ongoing, dependent effort to live in light of the gospel–the same gospel you were taught–so that each step in the journey of knowing God can traced by greater repentance of sin and renewed faith in Jesus. Only then, do we really experience God and can say that we truly know God. Only then can your life abound in thanksgiving, because you never cease to remember the great work of rescue and redemption God accomplished on your behalf that you might know and enjoy Him in the journey.